Buzz Around

with Z

Emergent Literacy Design

Haden Casey

Rationale:  This lesson will help children recognize the phoneme /z/ that is represented by Z.  By learning a physical representation (motioning with you pointer finger and thumb together like a buzzing bee flying) and associating it with the symbol Z, children will be able to identify /z/ in spoken words along with practicing finding /z/ in words.

Materials:  Primary handwriting paper and a pencil with an eraser; Zack the Lazy Zebra by Wendy Lewison; assessment worksheet for students to identify the studied graphemes picture is present; small dry erase board and dry erase marker and eraser.

Procedures: 1.We will warm up by reviewing phonemes and graphemes they already know. "Who all remembers what sound the letter d makes? Remember d says /d/. Can someone give me some words that start with /d/? Great job! What sound does the letter h make? Excellent!  Can someone give me some words that begin with the letter k? Continue discussing both the grapheme and the phoneme and ask students to think of words that use that phoneme.

2.  Use the dry erase board to draw a capital Z. “Who knows what letter this is?” “This is the letter Z.” Explain that the letter z says /z/. “/z/ sounds like zebra or could sound like someone who's name is Zane. To make this sound, put your teeth together. Then touch the tip of your tongue above your top teeth. Then make a buzzing noise that kind of tickles and this should make the sound /z/.” Make the hand motion of your pointer finger and thumb together and move it around like a buzzing bee while making the /z/ sound. Show the children how to make their bee buzz by showing them how you do yours. “All right, now everyone practice making their bee buzz while making the /z/ sound. Excellent buzzing bees!”

3.Now model to the students how to listen for /z/ in words and choose the correct word. “Do I hear /z/ in zig or dog?  While buzzing my bee and make the sound /z/... I hear /z/ in zig.  Do I hear /z/ in zoo or cow? /z/(buzzing bee)... zoo. Now you try. Do you hear /z/ in zebra or bear? Do you hear /z/ in Zack or Sara?”

4.Explain to the children what a tongue twister is and write one on the dry erase board and say it so they can hear it.  Ziggy Zipped and Zagged around Zebras.  "Now that you heard me say it get your buzzing bee ready and lets try and say the tongue twister and buzz everytime we hear our buzzing bee. ZZZZiggy ZZZZipped and ZZZZZagged around ZZZZebras. Good job."

5.  Now have students get out their paper and pencils.  Ask the children what letter we use to spell /z/ to make sure they remember. Model how to make a capital Z on the dry erase board.  Start at the mountain top, cross through the middle to the other side of the mountain and down in the valley.  “Now we are going to learn how to write the letter Z. What does the Z say again?  Right! /z/. I can tell everyone has been paying attention! To make a capital Z, you cross the top of the mountain, cross down throught the middle to the other side of the mountain to the valley and cross the valley.” Continue saying this while the students make a z on their papers as you write another one on the board. Have them write four more on their paper.  Make sure each child is catching on and doing it correctly and help those who are not by modeling with them while holding their hand and pencil and directing while reciting the mountain saying. Now demostrate how to write a lower case z. You do the same pattern but you start in the middle of the mountain and cross to the other side and across the valley.  Then let them do four more. Once they are through have every one buzz their bee and make sure to remember when they see a Z they know what sound it makes.

6.  At last we will read Zack the Lazy Zebra.  "Now we are going to read Zack the Lazy Zebra and I want you to have your buzzing bee fingers ready so when you hear the buzzzzzing bee you can make your bee buzz.

7.  Pass out a worksheet to each child for assessment.  Let the children find and circle the picture if they hear /z/.




Lewison, Wendy.  Zack the Lazy Zebra. Scholastic Inc. 2001.


Yopp, H.K., & Yopp, R.H. (2000). Supporting phonemic awareness development in the classroom. The Reading Teacher, 54, 130–143.

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